RADHICA DE SILVA
Repairs done on the 14 sluice flood gates found at the Trinidad Point Gate site in Woodland have failed, causing an influx of saltwater to gush inland, possibly affecting hundreds of acres of arable land.
Footage of the saltwater intrusion was captured by the president of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Group, Edward Moodie on Thursday, during high tide.
Speaking to Guardian Media, Moodie said for the past month, the ongoing repair works have stopped.
“The water is flowing upstream, up the Bhagmania and Trinidad Rivers straight into Woodland, and that is why the area cannot drain,” Moodie said.
He added: “The flood gates have failed. The temporary measures put in place are not working. The sheets have fallen into the river. The saltwater is flowing freely, spoiling hundreds and hundreds of acres of arable lands and inundating residential areas with water.”
He explained that residents were now bracing for flood devastation.
“The 14-sluice flood gate in Woodland is supposed to be under repair. The contractor abandoned the project and some of the sheets he put up to permanently block off the gate have fallen, and saltwater is rushing nonstop. It is flowing in the wrong direction,” Moodie added.
He called on the Minister of Works, Rohan Sinanan, to deal with the problem.
“Pay the contractor and let them finish this job,” Moodie urged. “At this stage of the rainy season, we cannot afford to shut down a project like this. Drainage workers are out clearing the edges of the watercourses and doing their work. We are asking for the gates to be finished before the heavy downpour that is expected in the next few months,” Moodie added.
Meanwhile, the president of the Woodland Flood Action Group, Adesh Singh, told Guardian Media the outdated pumps at the gates were unable to control the water flow.
“We have 14 gates. Repairs on seven of them had started but the contractor only did four. One of the gates has fallen into the river and we have an inrush of water from the high tide. Because of the heavy rainfall, we have a lot of surface run-off, and the river is full. The water is going into Woodland, rather than exiting Woodland. We have Trinidad River and the Bhagmania River here, which have not been properly de-silted,” he added.
Singh also said the pump is inadequate.
“This pump should be placed in a museum. The gauges are broken, disconnected, there are leaks and cracks. That pump is small compared to the volume of water that comes down here. It cannot handle the water,” Singh said.
Contacted for comment, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said in July last year, the Ministry started the upgrade of the Trinidad Point Gate site in Woodland to refurbish 14 sluice gates, allow motorization of 10 of the 14 gates, as well as to install an electrical control panel.
“However, because of COVID-19, importation of the required motors, fitting and coupling mechanisms have been affected. So far, four gates have been replaced and six gates are scheduled to be refurbished,” he explained.
“The contractor visited the site today and a temporary sluice gate will be installed to prevent the saltwater intrusion,” he added.
Sinanan said the job is 60 per cent completed.
“Some of the temporary structures were affected and the contractor remains on-site and has permission from the Minister of Health to continue work,” Sinanan added.
He said works were ongoing but had been halted after the government banned construction.